TYRONE - The Altoona High boys volleyball season ended in a thud Tuesday.
Undefeated and eyeing the District 6 Class AAA championship, the Mountain Lions were hammered by State College, 3-1, at the Tyrone Area Middle School.
"We're very disappointed with the game tonight," Altoona coach John Saboe said, and he pointed to a number of reasons.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Brett Koelle drops the ball over State College’s Andrew Lanagan Tuesday.
"Unforced errors cost us and we never got in a good flow [offensively]," he said. "We struggled with passing, our communication fell off as the game moved on, and it seemed like the fellas had a little bit of trouble with confidence. We had trouble keeping our heads up, and trouble just falling into what we wanted to do."
The Mountain Lions were 14-0 and the No. 1 seed based on a pair of regular-season wins over State College. However, the Little Lions were the dominant team Tuesday, taking the first two sets, 25-21 and 27-25, before the Mountain Lions took the third, 25-20. State bounced back in the fourth, 25-17, to earn the win and the championship.
"It's frustrating," Saboe said. "The kids worked very hard. They checked off a lot of goals as we moved through the season and one of the goals they wanted was the district championship, and they didn't achieve that.
"That's a tough pill to swallow."
The Altoona coach credited State's outstanding play.
"They kept plays alive and did an excellent job with their passing," he said. "Their middles were very effective. If we had contained them, then we would have been better off in the game, but we couldn't contain them."
State's Teague Williams and Kevin Paroda dominated at the net and outside hitter Andrew Lanagan also had a big night. The setup man was Josh Weakland, who recorded 44 assists.
Saboe wasn't surprised the Little Lions went to their big middles.
"We wanted to serve them a little bit out of system, and contain their middles and not let them set as much," he said, "but we weren't as aggressive the first two games and that caused us problems."
Despite beating SC twice, Saboe didn't think his team took the Little Lions lightly in the playoffs.
"We didn't rise to the occasion enough to meet the challenge they presented," he said.
Altoona played without Clay Gingrich, who had 12 kills in the Mountain Lions' second win over State, but Saboe refused to comment on Gingrich's absence.
It was the fourth straight district title for State but coach Kim-Li M. Kimel said "this year was a little tougher."
"Altoona beat us twice early in the year rather convincingly," she said. "I know they had some late lineup changes this season and it may not have been their ideal set but our guys played great.
"We made big plays when we had to make big plays and won some games in a convincing manner and I'm real proud of that," she said.
State will play McDowell on Thursday in a PIAA regional play-in game.
ALTOONA: Kills-Mitchell Snyder, 15. Blocks-Stephon Hall, 5. Service points-Brandon Stitt, 8. Digs-Stitt, 27. Assists-Baumgartner, 24.
STATE COLLEGE: Kills-Andrew Lanagan, 15. Assists-Josh Weakland, 44. Digs-Noah Hanahan, 25.
Team records: Altoona (14-1); State College (12-4)